The mentor of race walker Callum Wilkinson says his superb performance on his Great Britain debut in Spain was a result of a ‘hard winter’s work’.
The 17-year-old King Edward VI Upper School student set a personal best in the Junior 10km European Cup for Race Walking in Murcia on Saturday, finishing 12th in the 43-strong field.
Eight of the walkers ahead of him were a year his senior, while his time of 42 minutes 49 seconds smashed his previous best of 44 mins 15 secs.
Mentor Ron Wallwork who, along with the help of coach Mick Graham, has helped guide the 17-year-old from a novice, last month tipped the Moulton-based star to one day medal at a major championship.
“I was not surprised (at the result) as he has put in a really hard winter’s work, he has been gearing up to this,” said Wallwork. “He has absolutely annihilated his personal best.
“The experience (of making his Great Britain debut) is immeasurable really because with his time he finished 12th, which makes him among the top European dozen for his age in the 10k road rankings.”
He said the Great Britain debutant had three main aims for 2015: to retain his three under-20 national titles, to qualify for Saturday’s event in Spain, and to make the European Athletics Junior Championships in Sweden in July, with his weekend’s time bettering the selection qualifying time.
“We think he might go even better on the track when he gets to Sweden in June, so it is an amazing thing.
“His coach Mick Graham has made a lot of input, and his personal strength trainer Tim Wilson has too.
“Tim takes Callum for his strength training every week, and also has the support of his family.
“We are immensely proud of him but the bottom line is that he is doing the work.”
Covering the first kilometre in four minutes and 22 seconds, Wilkinson occupied 25th position.
He reached 5km in 21 mins 27 secs, improving to 17th.
And the youngster finished strongly, walking the second half of the race slightly faster than the first (21 mins 22 secs) to clinch 12th.
Wilkinson told the European Athletics website:“It’s a big pb for me, I’ve done the European Junior qualifier for Sweden later in the year, so I’m really ecstatic about the race.
“To jump all the way under 43 (minutes) was great, it was what I was aiming for.
“I wasn’t sure about the hot weather, whether that would slow the time down, but actually out there it was perfect conditions for us.
“I started fast really, and then just settled into the race and into my race plan. I knew if I kept going I’d be fine.”